At the height of his power, Mike Tyson was one of the most dominant fighters to ever grace a boxing ring. The heavyweight instilled fear into the soul of those who opposed him. While he was and still is a controversial figure, Tyson’s power and run can’t be denied.
Recently, Tyson (50-6, 2NC) announced his intentions to return to the ring for exhibition bouts. “Iron” Mike hasn’t fought since 2005 but looks in shape following training programs and other methods of reenergizing his body. His power, which has resulted in 44 wins via knockout, looks to be the same, but it is unknown how the 53-year-old would do in the ring today.
With his comeback a hot topic, it’s time to reflect on some of his top performances. FIGHT SPORTS presents the top five knockouts of Tyson’s career.
Henry Tillman (1990, 2:47 into round one)
Sometimes, sacrifices need to be made in order for someone like Tyson to get his edge back.
Following his upset loss at the hands of Buster Douglas in February 1990, Tyson needed a rebound in a big way. No longer undefeated or a champion, Tyson’s team had him face Henry Tillman. Tillman (28-3-2) faced off against Tyson before, beating him twice as an amateur. Those losses ended Tyson’s chances of making the 1984 Olympics, with Tillman winning gold in the heavyweight division.
A 25-1 underdog, Tillman was no match for the angry Tyson. He tried to avoid the offense of Tyson, but Mike eventually caught up to him. Not letting him breathe, Tyson would hit a strong right that dropped Tillman down to the floor. It looked like a shot to the top of the head but it was enough to take down the veteran.
Larry Holmes (1988, 2:55 into round four)
Seven fights removed from beating Trevor Berbick, Tyson took on the great Larry Holmes, who was coming off of two losses in a row to Michael Spinks. A “dream match”, Holmes came out of retirement to face a surging Tyson. Holmes was critical of Tyson throughout the build for the fight and even during the bout. Tyson would end up letting his fists do the talking.
Holmes tried cutting off the power of Tyson by holding him. Tyson, however, would find his way through and ended up being aggressive. The younger fighter was too quick for Holmes. He would hit jabs and combination shots that knocked Holmes down twice. One of those shots happened to be a right hook to the head which would be his downfall. A third right and knockdown later and it was all over.
Michael Spinks (1988, 1:31 into round one)
A fight that cemented Tyson’s status as a top heavyweight champion. It was also a fight in which Spinks (31-1) showed fear.
Tyson only needed the lineal and The Ring Heavyweight Titles to add to his trophy case. He rushed Spinks right away, landing major shots to the body and face. A left uppercut to the body brought Spinks down to the floor. Spinks got back up and tried to hit a right, but he moved in too close and Tyson landed a huge shot to the face. Spinks was brought back down, this time for good.
It was the first and only loss of Spinks’ career, as he would retire shortly after.
Trevor Burbick (1986, 2:35 into round two)
You never forget your first title.
Known as “Judgement Day”, it was time to decide if Tyson would truly live up to his hype. He did so, and then some. Tyson would not stop being the aggressor in the bout, hitting strong shots to the body and face. A four-punch combination had Burbick staggered all the way back. He was dropped by Tyson in the second but was able to get back up. The ending was almost inevitable, as Tyson hit a right and a left hook to the head. Burbick, who was the WBC Heavyweight Champion at the time, tried getting up but to no avail.
As a result of the win, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion of all time at 20. This fight meant more to Tyson than some realized, given the fact that trainer/manager Cus D’Amato died a year before the fight.
Marvis Frazier (1986, 30 seconds into round one)
While Tyson had had some deadly knockouts in his career, this one was the one that made you feel bad for the other guy.
The son of Hall of Famer Joe Frazier, Marvis (19-2), who took on Larry Holmes just a few years earlier in 1983, was looking for another shot at a title. He was no match for Tyson, who landed a huge uppercut fifteen seconds into the fight.
Looking out of it right away, Frazier could not respond, but that did not stop Tyson from landing shot after shot to his body and face. Referee Joe Cortez finally called Tyson off, and a defeated fighter was not answering the count. Cortez had to physically take the mouthpiece out of Frazier’s mouth, who said he didn’t remember much from the fight.